Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Emotional High Tide

The Reverse of the Medal; Patrick O'Brian (W.W. Norton & Company; 1992; ISBN 978-0-393-30960-7; cover by Geoff Hunt).

So it comes down to this. Jack Aubrey, returning in his beloved H.M.S. Surprise, where it is to be sold out of the service (and possibly broken up) seemingly chances upon some information which will make him a fortune, clear his debts, and allow him to purchase his beloved ship.

Unfortunately, it is all a lie and he is arrested for defrauding the stock market. His case goes from being a minor one to a major (political) one and he faces the shame of being drummed out of the service.

And, potentially worse, in one of the most moving passages in the entire twenty-book (plus one fragment) series, he faces being pilloried in front of the Exchange in London.

Meanwhile, his friend, Stephen Maturin has come into money. Serious money. This allows him to launch a series of investigations in order to clear Jack Aubrey's name. It all comes to nothing, on that road. But another road opens up, where all the branches and threads that have been scattered through the last several books come together. There is a very serious problem in Intelligence. Will Stephen be able to put the pieces together before it is too late for England?

An excellent tale. The chapters revolving around Jack's trial and the aftermath are very moving, either when you read them or when you (given a excellent narrator) hear them. I pulled the car off the road when I heard this section on audiobook, as the tears were streaming down my face at the gesture given to Captain Aubrey by his fellow members of the Royal Navy.

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